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Charles At 80 Percent But Insists He'll Be Bigger, Stronger, Faster
As Kansas City Star staffer Adam Teicher reported, Jamaal Charles wants to put to rest any fears the Chiefs and their fans might have about his ability to return from last season’s knee injury as one of the NFL’s premier running backs.

“If you’re worrying about me not being the same, just look out for me this year,” Charles said on Tuesday. “I’m hungry. I want it this year. I’ve got the passion for it. I just can’t wait to play football. I can’t wait to bring stuff back to this community and show them how much we can win. I feel like this is a year for us that we can go all the way. I’m saying that because I feel it in me that I can bring a lot to the team this year, being bigger, stronger and maybe even faster.”

The Chiefs have been optimistic that Charles, returning from the torn ACL he suffered against the Lions in Week 2 last year, will be ready for the start of the season.

"He's running straight ahead and so he's making good progress," head coach Romeo Crennel recently said. "The trainer says he's on schedule, his rehab people say he's on schedule, so we're excited about that news. ..."

But Charles will be worked into the action slowly.

"I think it's good to wait it out for awhile," Charles said. "I can't wait to play football, but I can be patient with it."

Charles told reporters his knee is at "about 80 percent" and the speedy back indicated he had been told by Chiefs trainer Dave Price that he needs to be cleared by his surgeon, James Andrews, before he can participate.

“I feel I’m at the point where I can do that,” Charles said. “I feel I can do the same thing my teammates do. I do it without the coaches around. I catch the ball, I cut, I do a lot of drills and I’ve been doing this for two months.”

Either way, Charles said he would be at full strength in plenty of time for the Sept. 9 season-opener against Atlanta at Arrowhead Stadium. He began his rehabilitation shortly after his surgery and said he’s well ahead of schedule.

“In my mind, I feel like I never had the surgery,” Charles said. “I feel normal. I feel like I can do everything everybody else can do and I can do it even better.

“I got to work on my upper body. I got to get myself stronger and bigger. That was the focus for the first three months. The doctors said it takes six months for you to fully recover. I’m past six months. After four months I was running and cutting and jumping.”

Teicher went on to note that Charles is returning to a slightly different world than the one he left. Coach Todd Haley was replaced by Crennel and offensive coordinator Bill Muir by Brian Daboll.

He will share the featured back role with not Thomas Jones, but Peyton Hillis, a 250-pound free-agent acquisition.

“He’s the same as Thomas Jones,” Charles said. “He’ll come in and get all the tough yards and all the pounding. That’s the same thing that Thomas did. I’m not a selfish player. I just want to win. If he can contribute to the team and put points on the board, why not? I don’t care about yards. I feel like if every week we can win a game, I’ve got no complaints.

“I like his game. He’s athletic and big and strong. Nothing against Thomas Jones but (Hillis) brings something to the team like (Le’Ron) McClain, but he’s playing tailback instead. He’s bringing power and explosiveness, and he’s strong. He’s going to catch the ball and he’s got great hands, and I feel he’s an all-around player like me.”

Indeed, the presence of Hillis makes it easier for the team to take a cautious approach with Charles. Unfortunately, this will make it harder to get a solid feel for Charles' true Fantasy value until much later in the summer than would be ideal.

That said, gutsy Fantasy owners might be able to take advantage of those less willing to climb out on a limb are taking the same cautious approach as the Chiefs. In the meantime, I'll be looking for any tidbits that might give those gutsier owners a little more (or less) confidence in Charles' chances of regaining past form.